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Issue 83 - On the spice trail

Whisky Magazine Issue 83
October 2009


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On the spice trail

Martine Nouet takes a walk on the spiced side of life.

How often do our tasting comments read like this: ripe fruit, enhanced by delicate spices.

Peppery finish. Intense spicy character.

That magical alchemy between wood and alcohol produces spicy aromas. If it is quite easy for the professional tasters to pick cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or coriander, they are more evasive when it comes to peppery notes. I hosted a tasting seminar at Whisky Live London on that theme a few years ago, I had the participants try and find the different peppers in a range of whiskies. We managed to have a few spicy comments as well!

When autumn comes,we are ready to leave raw dishes for cooked ones, looking for more elaborate and spicy food. Here are three recipes which give spices a prominent part. I have deliberately chosen for each recipe one particular malt which dictates the choice of spices. One will note that the whiskies are relatively old. This is not surprising as the spicy character slowly builds up as the whisky matures longer. All these spicy notes originate from the wood extracts. Some new makes have a spicy character though, Talisker being one of them. The older the whisky is, the most complex the aromatic profile is and it is not always easy to isolate the spice.

But that makes cooking and sampling even more fun.

A TOAST TO SERGEANT PEPPER Pepper is a unique and multifaceted spice. A colourful family !


Coming from Malabar forests in India, pepper reached Europe during the Middle ...

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